John Piper’s new book Expository Exaltation focuses on the majesty of the preaching of the Word of God in corporate worship. The book is centered on Piper’s belief that preaching is a biblical mandate within corporate worship. Above all, Piper contends that preaching the Word of God is an act of worship in itself and must be the forefront of any worship service.
Piper first explores the history of worship services within the New Testament Church. He argues that corporate worship was actually a daily activity and not just something done on Sundays. This, of course, can be seen in the book of Acts as we see the early church doing life together, not just on Sundays. Piper explains that the inner essence of this daily worship is being satisfied with all that God has for us in Christ and savoring the glory of God in Christ.
Piper then moves into explaining the nature of expository preaching. He concludes that true expository preaching is not only defined by a verse-by-verse style of preaching. Instead, Piper argues that true expository preaching is taking any text, or even multiple texts, and preaching their true meaning to “expose it into view.” He states that this allows the preacher to utilize many styles of preaching such as topical or thematic and not just verse-by-verse explanations of individual books.
Piper argues that the reason for this broadened definition of expository preaching serves a purpose. That purpose is that expository preaching should be an exaltation, a proclamation, of the glory of God to the hearers. It should be a “heralding” of truth. After all, the Gospel is the good news of Christ and deserves to be proclaimed with an air of majesty.
Piper then moves into arguments for the commandment of preaching the Word in worship. Piper points to 2 Timothy 4:2 and the famous statement of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, “Preach the Word.” There is no ambiguity in this statement, we are commanded to preach. Piper further expounds this truth by looking back in the letter to Timothy in chapter 3 where we find that all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for a whole list of items of which teaching is the first item in the list. Further, Piper shows from the passage that preaching can be of great benefit to the corporate worship. It can instruct those churches that wish to grow in their faith, but also, it can correct a church that has lost its way. In short, the preaching of the Word of God is good for every congregation no matter what spiritual state they find themselves in.
The book then moves into a history of expository preaching among the people of God. Piper starts with examples found in the Old Testament moving to the New Testament and the early church. He spends a good deal of time describing the culture of the early church as well as the patterns we see in Acts on how the preaching was carried out in the corporate worship setting. Ultimately, Piper concludes that Scripture is to be the focus of preaching and that the preaching of Scripture is to point towards Jesus Christ.
Piper spends the rest of the time in the book describing the various natures of expository exaltation. He shows the miracle of worship both naturally and supernaturally. He explains how expository exaltation manifests itself in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. He shows a firm reality on what we should be preaching, the Glory of God as the ultimate goal of all things, the Glory of God and how it shapes everything, and the exaltation of Christ crucified and how we should only boast in the cross in every sermon.
Finally, Piper gives a plea that the calling is both glorious and dangerous. We should not take lightly our call to preach. It is beautiful and made for worship, but it is also in a class all to its own. Piper also concludes that if anything replaces the preaching of the Word of God, that replacement will ultimately fail.
The book is an easy read, though it is a little difficult to get started and captivated, and Piper’s typical writing style shines through. In every page, you sense Piper’s zeal and passion for the Word of God as well as his love for the Savior. Expository Exaltation is a work that any serious expositor of the Word of God would do well to add to their library to glean truths from the Scripture and to encourage them in their calling.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.